Tiger situation grim, NTCA sends ‘reminder’ for govt help

Concerned over the deteriorating situation in the Chandrapur forests, where a number of tigers are reported to have disappeared, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has written to Mahararashtra Chief Secretary Johny Joseph citing a letter by B Majumdar, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), Wildlife seeking his intervention in the 'grim situation'.

Majumdar, who quit the post recently to join the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal as its executive member, had written a letter to M B Lal, Additional Director General of Forests, Ministry of Environment and Forests, on May 5, admitting to the possibility of inter-state poachers' gangs being active in Chandrapur forests.

Majumdar also said that the state wildlife machinery won't be able to tackle the crisis alone and had said National Wildlife Crime Bureau should help in the matter. "Maharashtra Forest Department will be pleased to extend whatever cooperation the Bureau may require," Majumdar had said.

Citing information provided by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), Majumdar had also sent a report about forests being relieved of 20 tigers between November 2008 and April 2009. WPSI specialises in wildlife crime detection and has done undercover operations in Tibet to expose international trade in tiger parts.

Taking cognisance of the issue, the NTCA, which was marked a copy of the letter, wrote to the Chief Secretary on May 18, seeking his intervention in the matter. "The advisory sent by the NTCA regarding post-mortem protocol hasn't been followed by the field officials nor this ministry/NTCA has been apprised of the incidents," NTCA Member-Secretary Rajesh Gopal has said in the letter.

The Indian Express had first reported on the growing man-animal conflict in Chandrapur forests, particularly around the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in 2006. Since then, over 55 people have been killed in the area. But the last fatal attack had occurred on January 21. Experts believe that this is due to disappearance of tigers in the region.

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